A war of words has broken out between the Department of Housing and the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) over the recent wildfires in Killarney and proposed rewilding.
This week, the INHFA pointed to recent fires in Killarney National Park as an insight into the potential dangers of a rewilding policy.
“Proposals targeting a significant increase in the Natura 2000 designations, in addition to the implementation of a strictly protected designation, has the potential to radically alter our landscape,” Micheál McDonnell of the INHFA has said.
Failure to protect
“Under the EU Biodiversity Strategy, at least 10% of our land base is targeted for this rewilding proposal,” he said.
These fires had nothing to do with farmers and are a clear indication of what can happen when the lands are not being managed
“Despite being resourced at levels that most farmers could only dream of, the NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] failed to prevent these fires from happening and when they did happen, they also failed in their ability to contain them,” McDonnell continued.
“These fires had nothing to do with farmers and are a clear indication of what can happen when the lands are not being managed.
“This is currently the case in our national parks, where a rewilding policy is well established and may well be the future for at least 10% of the country by 2030.”
The comments from the INHFA have provoked a strong reaction from the NPWS, which is under the remit of the Department of Housing, with a spokesperson saying that the “suggestion that these fires can be blamed upon ‘rewilding’ is preposterous” and that the NPWS was “surprised and dismayed” with the INHFA’s views.
“The article states the NPWS contains fires. This is incorrect. The NPWS is not an emergency service,” the spokesperson added.
He also said that the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy “seeks to protect peatlands and other habitats and is crucial to Ireland’s climate targets, but nowhere does it mention re-wilding of farmland.”